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Keane, Robert E. 2011. Foreword. In: McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A. Landscape ecology of fire. Ecological Studies 213. New York: Springer. p. vii-viii.

In the mid 1980s I was asked to create a fire regime map of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area for the Bitterroot National Forest fire management staff. The well known fire historian Steve Barrett had already completed most of the work by synthesizing all available fire history results by forest habitat type, so I figured it would be easy to create a map of habitat types and then assign fire regimes to each habitat type. However, when the mapped fire regimes were compared to actual fire history field data, I found that the map's accuracy was disturbingly low, ranging from 40% to 60%. At first I thought that low accuracies were a result of inaccurate habitat type mapping, but subsequent revisions of the habitat type map that increased accuracies to over 80% did nothing to improve the accuracy of the fire regime map. I searched and searched for answers to this dilemma but in the end, I gave up and sent the map to the Bitterroot National Forest with a warning about its low accuracy. It wasn't until years later after reading Forman and Godron's Landscape Ecology book that I fully understood the profound influence of spatial and temporal context on fire regimes. It was clear that fire regimes are the manifestation of spatial factors, such as topography, wind, and patch characteristics, as they interact with antecedent climate, fuels, vegetation and humans across the landscape, and fire regimes would be difficult, if not impossible, to understand, let alone predict, without a spatiotemporal foundation.

Keywords: landscape ecology, fire regimes

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Foreword
Electronic Publish Date: July 16, 2012
Last Update:
July 16, 2012

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